March 01, 2022
EEOC Issues Updated WYSK Guidance on COVID-19 & Religious Accommodation
On March 1st, the EEOC issued updated Guidance in Section L of its “WYSK About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” The newest Section includes six (6) related questions and answers.
While the information is not new, it does provide some good reminders for any employer whose employee requests a reasonable accommodation, such as being excused from a vaccination requirement, because of the employee’s sincerely held religious belief. A few reminders include:
- Religion does include nontraditional religious beliefs, practices, or observances, including those that may be unfamiliar to employers. It does NOT include social, political, or economic views or personal preferences.
- Generally, an employer should assume that a request for religious accommodation is based on the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances. However, if you have an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief, you may seek additional supporting information.
- An employer “should thoroughly consider” telework or reassignment as reasonable accommodations.
- What is a reasonable accommodation under Title VII? Requiring an employer to bear more than a “de minimis,” or a minimal, cost to accommodate an employee’s religious belief is an undue hardship. This can include the risk of the spread of COVID-19 to other employees or to the public.
- If an employer accommodates one employee’s request for religious accommodation, does it have to accommodate all requests? No. “The employer may consider the cumulative cost or burden of granting accommodations to other employees.”
- If an employer grants a request for reasonable accommodation, can the employer ever reconsider or rescind it? Yes. “An employer has the right to discontinue a previously granted accommodation if…a provided accommodation subsequently poses an undue hardship on the employer’s operations due to changed circumstances.”
Click here for the full, updated guidance.